Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tilly Artaud

NOTES: I spent one summer at my mother's house with a toad, an American toad, a female American toad, who visited each night at ten and left in the morning at six for twelve weeks; then she did not appear at her perch by the glass door for two weeks, a summer vacation.
"If you continue to come here," I said to the toad, "I'll have to buy a terrarium." At the word "terrarium" she crawled off into the night.
My life was quiet then, and that was my entertainment. I studied toads on the internet. The male toads have distinct voices. They call in mating. The females have little red gullets. Toads hibernate under the permafrost. No source seemed to know how long they live.
I reluctantly named her Tilly Artaud. She was free, not a pet. I could only train my cat, Francis, not to eat her if he knew she were a pet. Before the summer was over, I saw him pat her gently on the head.

After not going out for weeks, I went to a bar and met an electrical engineer, a motorcyclist who raced in the Black Hills, a Renaissance man in a relationship with a young married woman, and I told him about the toad.
Tilly appears in my short story "Dumb Luck" in a paragraph. I used it already, but it's a longer story than that. Do I write it long form, as a creative nonfic? As a children's story?
I started on a children's story that turned lewd about frogs and turtles. The turtles were the landlords. The wife turtle drove a red Corvair. Her husband fetched six-packs of pop and beer from the country store for the frogs who were guests. He strapped them to his shell with a bungy cord. He went on foot, crossing the highway at a walking bridge. One day a car hit him, and the frogs didn't care that he was limping. The frogs were a very famous rock band staying at the lodge. Continue?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sentences like little isles of meaning

SLS Writes
Summer Literary Seminars

"Courtesy of the indefatigable Doug Messerli: terrific, fresh and interesting, form-bending prose-poetry by Ann Bogle here: – and here:

"She’s not doing anything particularly new (nothing’s all that new anymore — hasn’t been in a long, long while), but she’s doing it very well indeed: being interesting to the reader (as a result of being interesting to herself, one would suggest), as she hops from one little isle of meaning (shreds of recollections, leaps of logic, narrative’s constant self-adjustments) to the next ... "

[read more]

Monday, January 11, 2010

Écriture de la chatte

The story has had four titles: "Écriture de la chatte," "How to Be Another Writer," "YKK," and "Feuilleton".


YKK is a zipper manufacturer whose initials stand for Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha. A boy told me (and I believed as a child) that YKK was my name in code.


Another writer was not always another writer; before she was another writer she was a young woman writer and before that a girl who wrote; before that a child and before that an infant; before that an egg in the scenic camaraderie of heaven, in a film about two pants, parents enjoining her to take up.
She has lived with her and inside her. Has she seen it? She has not seen it, but she has roamed its hall until airborne, a cord dripping. Who cut it? Saw. He saw it, the boy, from the foot of his mother's deathbed, her covers flung off--dark furry snail suddenly visible--signal of what's next, his dying at the beginning or her end.
Another writer writes a serious paw, a mistake of cat, a dripping maw, a dune of replacement. "Sex is a renewable resource," she says. "If I have slept with all of North America, then you have slept with all of North America and Iceland besides. Wake up, lizard!" but he has slid off the bed.

She'd rather write his penis than her pussy. She's seen that.
Her clit is off limits to all except a stranger. He sends her a chestnut-sized, handpainted black and pink-petaled vibrator with 12 speeds and two gyrations. When it runs out of energy, she plugs in the long one, long like a rolling pin.
“It was the size of my forearm,” she said when he asked about the largest man. “I squatted over it. The head was inside me, and I covered only the top of it like a helmet. He didn't thrust. ”
She is long and curved up near a bell; only the carillonneur has knocked it.
She goes to the garden in August with her camera. She pictures it for the wild rhinoceros, a serious writer, living in Reading. She has never met him. He sends her fifty photos of his pumped up self, even one of his erection during a handstand; she says, “I'm not big enough for you, not wide.” He texts her from a restaurant in Philly where he is eating mussels: when r u cum-ing?
In the photo an elegant nail partitions the leaves: a flower, she's heard that, or an ear of prime rib. She posts the photo to her weblog under the heading "Sex and Taxes” and leaves it for fowl to peck at for a week.
“I don't want you to get a Brazilian,” he tells her, only he calls it a Bolivian. She has to get a Brazilian, every few weeks for a year. “I like you with hair there,” he says, “I like women with hair there,” but his position is a losing climb. “Suit yourself,” he says, “but it's for men who fantasize girls.” “It's cleaner,” she says, thinking of the artist in St. Paul who wouldn't let hair near his mouth. She has told him about the camera but not about the rhinoceros who texts her in Reading: gitting any? like a common pornographer or a crowd.
Blood everywhere, and this time she hasn't prepared for him or shaved. Fifteen pillow shams at the Palmer House devastated, a serious poet from Philadelphia, not the writer from Reading after all.
The third first he: Had he seen it? The ring. He couldn't move forward to be inside it with her: it was a deadlock in several positions. He went down to look at her, to shell gaze. There was a wedding band. “You said you weren't a virgin when I met you,” he said. “I'm not,” she said. And he returned it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


The willing suspension of disbelief, a parakeet.
You cook then leave dishes for the reader.
I prevent having dishes to wash by not cooking.
I eat nuts and cheese and berries, but what if I did not eat?
. . .
A while ago, my boyfriend left me. Bella says it's sexy that I go around my small circle in town saying, “He broke up with me. He left me. He quit.” Sexy, but I don't know how not to: he didn't leave, and he wasn't my boyfriend. He was my fiancé. He stays in, deep in, a granite fissure in Manhattan. I stay in Minnesota and go out. I go out to meet the girls—old girls, new. We go on, trifling with language that's in use for us. Hot, cool, loving women with not cool, loving husbands or with hot, cool, loving boyfriends or with no husband or boyfriend: duende for a season or a reason for a while.

“You don't like the word ‘cunt,'” my fiancé said judiciously. “I like it but not as a first name,” I said.

Bella shows me a heavy, beaded necklace that matches my boots--beige-tipped and turquoise-shafted, the turquoise color not visible under jeans. I bought the jeans already tattered so I wouldn't have to wait for them, but they are all cotton without added stretch, so I wait anyway, stand around cased in them, dropping pounds walking and talking ceaselessly in them, talking and walking, while the air in the rooms turns pale red. He'd spy me dancing to paragraphs, gorging on beer then pizza yet growing loose and looser in the limbs until I feel like a girl again, a go-girl on a budget, a Gidget, a gadget. Yes, I say to Bella: I'll take the beads and black wool wrap with alpaca feathers and peacock brooch starred with crystals. I wind the stole around my jeans and pin the peacock at my hip. The wrap swings like a thick skirt over the jeans and beige boots. The peacock sparkles. They say and it is: subject for a runway.
. . .
Bella tells a story about a woman, an acquaintance, who came into the boutique with her boyfriend, the woman smelling of an STD. We perk up, listen. What STD? The smelly one, Bella says. The one with impossible syllables no one has heard of. The men of the north reject condoms and motorcycle helmets. The law permits you to break your head.

We walk to the Narrows from the boutique, fortified by talk of men and fashion. The Narrows is a blues bar known for outbreaks of small violence. I am wearing the winter white swing coat I bought for the wedding and the gold and turquoise beads.

A crowd parts to assess us. We take our seats at the corner of the bar. At the boutique we drank vodka. If I want to kill myself, but I don't, not here, not now, I'll order red wine. I ask for a Stella. A handsome man is already sitting next to me. I eye him as I shimmy in. He has beady green eyes. We go straight to politics. He is a Republican who lives on the Lake and commutes to Wall Street. Here, I am not surrounded by liberals on a sofa. Liberals are irresponsible dreamers who know nothing about finance, he says. I am not a liberal I tell him, but a leftist, a feministe. I hate abortion -- keep it legal, I say. I am wearing the sapphire ring. I have no friends and no enemies. My fiancé left me, I say.

An hour of this, a radio hour of talk-fucking, his green eyes boring into me, he leaves, and I turn, isolated. “He's married!” I say to Jen. “After I invested an hour in it.” Jen laughs and repeats to Bella what I say. Bella has to leave. It's ten. I move to her seat and into the brown eyes of a bald man shorter than I, a Libertarian distributor of faux tin ceiling panels. He sails in summer, ice boats in winter. I am a leftist and a feministe, I tell him. My fiancé left me. When we get up to dance, I feel drunk, but he holds me at the waist, and my legs kick out freely on the tiles.
. . .
If I get caught drinking and driving, I'll go to jail for a year. I tell the man with the brown eyes to drive us. Where are we going? To his house, he tells me. His friend, also named Tom, gets in the backseat. That Tom wears tiny spectacles, and I think that I have gotten it backward and that the glasses-Tom is the intellectual, but what if none of us is? I put on the seatbelt.

At Tom's the other Tom says good night in the driveway, and we go upstairs to where a clean white dog with beige spots and beautiful brown eyes is watching us. Tom leads me to a black leather couch in one of the living rooms. He strips me: boots, jeans, swing coat, beads. In moments, he's in me. He's not large, not small, slick. This--that--entry--is raison d'etre. “Clean as a whistle,” I say to the air, meaning no organisms, the organisms you can feel on contact. "Tight,” he says.

My fiancé said,“It was like having sex with the Holland Tunnel to be fucking Diana. My wife that was sex in a monkey patch. But sex with you is the sweetest, snuggest space.”

I'm glad Tom rolls me over and buffs me again. I call out in the dark that I'm a Jamaican. Another man comes near the room and stands in the door. He says something, but I miss it. I don't know who the other man is, but I see his shadow watching us. I wish the second man would come in, but there's thought in his distance. Later Tom tells me it's his foster son. Tom is 61.
. . .
I wake in the bed looking out at a giant golden maple, not knowing what town we are in. “What town is this?” I ask Tom, and he tells me but I forget. He answers my next thought, "I can't get you pregnant."
. . .
At breakfast, Kevin, who is 23, tall, dark, and impressive, sees me in the light. “I thought you were African when I heard you,” he says. “British and Swedish,” I tell him. “I might be Arab,” he says.

(Published at Istanbul Literary Review, May edition, 2010.)